WASHINGTON, D.C. - Research shows that the pandemic had a negative impact on our students: they experienced loss of learning time, a loss of socializing with other kids and for many, their mental health was also impacted. A congressional hearing is looking at how schools are trying to help students get back on track. 

In one of his first congressional hearings, New York Representative Joe Sempolinski (R- NY) shares how the pandemic impacted his family.  

“My wife, Angie, is a school teacher, who had to teach through hybrid learning through the pandemic,” said Sempolinski. “She would see half her students one day while the other half sat at home probably playing video games or with their computers on mute. The next day, those groups would change places. She was in the classroom and she would have different kids that weren’t there before. But despite millions and millions of dollars being poured into schools, at the behest of the American Federation of Teachers, we still have record low test scores and comprehension.”  

According to research from the Brookings Institute, student's overall math and reading test scores have dropped and that drop is even more drastic for kids in low-income areas. In a recent House Congressional Education Subcommittee, they look how students can get back on track. Researchers and educators said with the infusion of COVID relief dollars, schools are using that on things like teacher development and student tutoring.  

“Several states and school districts are developing permanent tutoring infrastructures that could add an important instructional component for the schools are bringing in mental health professionals and training teachers and social emotional learning to help students navigate their emotions and relationships,” said Phyllis Jordan, an associate director with FutureEd.  

But even with this additional funding, districts are still facing other pressing issues.  

“Many districts can’t find the people they want to hire,” said Jordan. “The pandemic has exacerbated long standing shortages in critical teaching areas like special ed, science and math.”  

Panelists said investing in our kids can help them recover from any loss of education.  

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to do the right thing for kids,” said Dr. Penny Schwinn, Tennessee Commissioner of Education. “We have an extraordinary amount of funding and I think that with that funding that came in, we have a responsibility to spend it well and really hold ourselves accountable to the outcomes of that funding.”